Tookie was "Bad"
I miss Frank DiLeo. This may seem strange because though we both attended the release party for the album “Michael” 12/13/10, I never actually met him. How I wish I had sought him out, shook his hand, and given him a hug. I cannot explain this; I just love him. Maybe it’s because he was often characterized as a “type” rather than recognized as the great individual he was, just because he was Italian and smoked a big fat cigar. Maybe because he reminded me of a teddy-bear or maybe it was his hearty laugh and bright smile. Maybe it’s for the sparkle in his eyes. What I do know is that he is momentous for promoting the career of Michael Jackson. I also have the impression that the two of them were more than business associates and shared a special friendship and trust.
Nicknamed “Tookie” at birth by a friend of his father, the name stuck throughout his life with close friends. Tookie was more than just a producer. Frank Michael Dileo was also an Executive Producer, Co-Producer, and actor. During his early career in the 60’s, he promoted albums by Donovan, The Hollies and Sly & the Family Stone to radio stations for CBS Records. Artists such as Cyndi Lauper, Gloria Estefan, Luther Vandross and Ozzy Osbourne signed on with Epic as Frank was the National Promotions VP surpassing the growth of Columbia Records in the 80’s and managed Bon Jovi in the mid-90s. Mr. Dileo was quite instrumental in building Epic from a smaller $65 million dollar company to a $250 million dollar enterprise. He achieved over six and a half dozen gold and platinum awards.
As a performer in his own right, Frank played Mr.Big (the rock promoter) in the comedy Wayne’s World I & II , Tuddy Cicero in the crime film Goodfellas directed by Martin Scorsese and a regular in the TV series NY Undercover. As one of the executive producers of Moonwalker, he can also be seen in the Smooth Criminal segment. Frank also appears as himself in Wogan TV series and five documentaries : Gone Too Soon, King of Pop Volumes I & II, and two This Is It shorts; Memories of Michael and Staging the Return, The Adventure Begins.
Of course he is best known for promoting Michael’s solo career. Michael credited Mr. Dileo for the radio campaign that helped succeed the “Thriller” album as a worldwide success. Released in 1982, Frank made it the biggest-selling album ever of over 50 million copies. He also managed The Jackson’s Victory tour which set a record as the biggest grossing tour and Michael’s Bad tour.
As we celebrate 25 years of Bad, we celebrate Frank along with Michael, and when I see a Pepsi can with an image of Michael, I think of Frank. Frank wrote, produced and negotiated the series of MJ Pepsi commercials which succeeded in being another lucrative project. At times, Frank’s promotional ideas were questioned but he’d insist upon his strategies succeeded by triumph.
His last notable project was as a co-producer of “This is It” which became the highest grossing documentary and concert movie in the history of cinema. Mr. Dileo had also begun his own project about Michael. Frank said that he wanted to “set the record straight” because “The truth has to be told” when commenting about a memoir he began about working with Michael, his associations with The MJ Estate and The Jackson Family.
Though much of Michael’s success can be attributed to Frank’s fortitude, he drove a black Rolls-Royce, with the license plate “THANXMJJ”. His gratitude for representing Michael went above and beyond his business role too. Of all the executives associated with Michael it was Frank who was by his side during the trial of 2005. I’m sure that Frank’s loyalty to Michael had much to do with why it was Frank that Michael asked to co-produce This Is It.
Frank also had no qualms about speaking up for Michael and his innocence for interviews. Even he himself has been misquoted and slandered but Frank was relentless in standing for truth when it came to his relations with Michael. I.e.- Frank Dileo Slaps NY Post Quotes http://voices.yahoo.com/frank-dileo-slaps-ny-post-quotes-1324731.html?cat=9
Upon Frank’s death, John Branca is quoted as saying, "He was not only one of the great veterans of the music business, he was a beloved friend to me and all who were lucky enough to have had him in their lives. He was one of a kind."
Frank is survived by his wife, Linda, daughter Belinda, son Dominic, and grandson, Frank. His Godson, Michael Ciocca said that "His personality was larger than life..." Tookie had such a wonderful laugh. Enjoy listening to him in “FRANK DILEO talks about MICHAEL JACKSON in 1988” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v755jTSEGfs
“Frank played mobsters in movies like “Goodfellas” and liked to act tough, but he was a sweetheart. . . And remember my friend, who was barely five feet tall, but was a giant among men.” Roger Friedman, of Showbiz411, in response to his death a year ago.